A Great Game

A Great Game

The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey

In the tumultuous beginnings of hockey, the fights were as much off the ice as on it. A Great Game is about the hockey heroes and hard-boiled businessmen who built the game, and the rise and fall of legendary teams pursuing the Stanley Cup. With a historian’s perspective and fan’s passion, Stephen Harper presents a riveting and often surprising portrait of the early years of hockey, capturing everything from the physical contests on the rinks to the battles behind the scenes.

A Great Game shows how much about hockey has stayed the same. Rough play, fervent hometown loyalties, owner-player contract disputes, partisan news coverage, and big money were issues from the get-go. Was hockey to be a game of obsessed amateurs playing for the love of the sport, or was it a game for paid professionals who would give fans what they wanted?

A century ago rinks could melt, and by halftime the blades screwed to the players’ shoes could be sinking in mud, but the hockey pioneers were unstoppable. Teams sprang up across North America, from Victoria to Winnipeg, Halifax to Montreal, and Detroit to Pittsburgh. In the Queen City, in spite of the fanatical opposition of amateur hockey leaders, early teams such as the Toronto Professionals of 1908 and the Toronto Blue Shirts of 1914 took turns battling for Toronto’s very first Stanley Cup. These “forgotten Leafs” would lay the groundwork for the world’s most profitable hockey franchise.

In A Great Game, Stephen Harper brings alive the history of hockey’s first decades and pays passionate tribute to the earliest star players of the game. This entertaining and original book will captivate fans from start to finish.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476716534 | 
  • November 2013
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Video

An extended look at A Great Game

Hockey. It’s always been our game. Our passion. From its earliest days, strong personalities and philosophies battled to define not only how the game would be played, but who would play it. In A Great Game we meet the hockey heroes and hard-boiled...

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About the Author

Stephen J. Harper
PMO Photo by Jason Ransom

Stephen J. Harper

Like millions of other Canadians, Stephen Harper developed his love for hockey at a young age as he played at the arenas and on the shiny rinks and roads of his hometown. Today, long retired from his on-ice “career” with the Leaside Lions, he is the twenty-second Prime Minister of Canada and is happily married to Laureen, who, with their children Ben and Rachel, live in Calgary and Ottawa. A member of the Society of International Hockey Research with a particular interest in the early decades of the game, Mr. Harper is an amateur historian interested in exploring the sport’s impact on the people and places that define Canada. A Great Game is his first published work on the game of hockey.

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